Elliot got an invitation to a ball this week.

It didn’t come gilt-edged, on creamy cardstock, with black ink calligraphy delineating the crisp outlines of his name. It wasn’t delivered by a footman in pale-blue livery, standing to attention on a coach-and-four.

Actually, it was a photocopy folded twice and stuck in his notebook. It was from the school, and was in fact an invitation to an end-of-school dance for the 4e and 3e (i.e. 8th and 9th grades), the 2 highest grades at the school, a sort of junior-senior affair. It’s called “une balle” and that makes me very happy.

Elliot does not want to go. “I don’t want to ask a girl, and everyone will be going as couples,” he says. “I don’t want to get dressed up.” Don’t ask a girl, we say. Go with your friends, as a group. We are sure that there will be plenty of others who go that way, and a friend whose daughter went to the same school says the same thing. We tell him, Wear that suit we bought you at a thrift store in England last summer for the murder mystery dinner you got invited to, where you ended up getting to be the detective.

He isn’t sure, but I am. The French schools don’t have dances like American schools do. They just have this one, and you only have 2 opportunities to go to it. He shouldn’t miss it.

Our lives are so transitional. I wrote that sentence and then set down my computer for a minute, and coming back I find it to have a deeper meaning than I intended. What I meant was simply that we have moved a lot in our time, and I’m all for the kids experiencing everything they can in whatever place we’re in. That’s true for our family in particular, but it’s true for all people anywhere. Get off the couch. Take a little risk. Go to the dance. Wear the thrift store suit—it’s surprisingly cute and fun. Don’t be shy.

And of course this advice comes in part because in 8th grade, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the ball.

I’ll let you know what happens. Maybe even with pictures, if such a thing proves possible.

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